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John Wetton (UK) - 2003 - "Rock of Faith"
(46 min, Giant Electric Pea)


****+
                 
Track List:
       
1. Mondrago (inst.) 2:13
2. Rock of Faith 3:57
3. A New Day 5:17
4. I've Come To Take You Home 4:40
5. Who will Light a Candle 3:39
6. Nothing Gonna Stand In Our Way 5:37
7. Altro Mondo (inst.) 3:42
8. I Believe In You 5:23
9. Take Me To the Waterline 6:09
10. I Lay Down 4:04
11. When You Were Young 1:35

All tracks: by Wetton, except
4 & 10: by Wetton & Downes,
2: by Wetton & Nolan,
5: by Wetton & R. Palmer-James,
6: by Wetton & S. Shiffrin, and
9: by Wetton & J. Young

Line-up:

John Wetton - vocals; bass & acoustic guitars; keyboards
Geoffrey Downes - Virtual Grand piano; Hammond B4 organ
Clive Nolan - keyboards
John Mitchell - electric guitars
Steve Christey - drums

Arranged by Wetton & Nolan.
Produced by Wetton, Nolan, & K. Groom.
Engineered by K. Groom at "Thin Ice" St., Surrey, England.

Preamble. "Rock of Faith" is the tenth, jubilee solo album by John Wetton, which, besides, marks John's personal jubilee: he is fifty. (Congratulations!) The line-up on this album is worthy of the status of supergroup: it includes both of the founders of Asia: Wetton & Downes, the two core members of Arena: Nolan and Mitchell, and Jadis's drummer Christey. As for (Threshold's guitarist) Karl Groom, he is undoubtedly one of the best contemporary engineers and producers in the UK.

The Album. Don't worry dear readers: there is nothing on this album that would remind you of something like "Asia meets Arena" or anything else. Even though the music on "Rock of Faith" is instantly accessible, it's very original and, at the same time, typical for John, who, by the way, sings here as great as never before (I mean John's solo creation). Also, I think I should mention that almost most of the songs on the album are of a dramatic character. Thankfully, almost all of the contents of this jubilee (double-jubilee, to be precise) album are very tasteful, to say the least. "Rock of Faith" features eleven tracks, two of which are instrumental pieces: Mondrago and Altro Mondo (1 & 7), and the latter of them is the only track that, IMHO, is unnecessary here. Consisting exclusively of the slow passages of synthesizer, it sounds too monotonous in comparison with any of the other tracks on the album and is of a spacey rather than symphonic character. Mondrago is a very nice instrumental ballad performed by the entire band. It's about the predominant stylistics of the album, which is a high-quality Neo Symphonic Art-Rock, the best representatives of which are the songs: I've Come To Take You Home, Who will Light a Candle, I Believe In You, and I Lay Down (4, 5, 8, & 10). Apart from the parts of real Rock instruments, these songs feature the piano passages, and also either passages of a violin quartet or those of a large string ensemble: while being synthetic, all of them sound very realistic. The first two of them are especially touching, which is probably due to the fact that they contain only a few of the parts of drums and don't feature those of electric guitar. The album's title track, A New Day, Nothing Gonna Stand In Our Way, and Take Me To the Waterline (2, 3, 6, & 9) are about Neo Symphonic Art-Rock with noticeable elements of Prog-Metal. Rock of Faith is the only track on the album where percussion instruments accompany all of the soloing instruments. Also, this song is notable for passages of an acoustic guitar that are interwoven with heavy musical textures. The solos of acoustic guitar are present on Who Will Light a Candle and I Believe In You. The Hammond B4 organ is one of the main keyboard instruments on A New Day and I Lay Down (3 & 10). Take Me To the Waterline is probably the only song on the album, all the vocal parts of which are of an optimistic rather than dramatic character. Also, it features a few of the solos that are almost not unlike those of saxophone. Finally, When You Were Young, which is the closing track of the album, presents 'the one-man choir', which, in its turn, shows that the current vocal possibilities of John are richer in varied timbres and shades than ever before.

Summary. Summary will be simple. In my view, "Rock of Faith" is John Wetton's best solo album to date. It's even better than the debut and eponymous Asia album - the only Asia album that I liked.

VM: March 17, 2003


Related Links:

John Wetton
Giant Electric Pea Records


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